02/10/2010 12:00AM

Seeking the Queen shortens up, runs for tag

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Seeking the Queen zipped through her first three races with comprehensive victories in sprints at Golden Gate Fields last year.

Her 2010 debut in a route in the California Oaks over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 1 did not go as well. Seeking the Queen was the 7-5 favorite, took the early lead, but faded through the stretch to finish a well-beaten fourth.

Owners Theresa and Edward Denike are trying a new approach for Seeking the Queen's next start. She starts at Santa Anita on Thursday in a first level optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies - and she's for sale. Seeking the Queen starts for the optional $80,000 claiming price.

Thursday's race over 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track will be Seeking the Queen's first start for trainer Paddy Gallagher. Lloyd Mason trained Seeking the Queen for her first four starts.

Gallagher expects the move back to a sprint to benefit Seeking the Queen.

"We'll see if she fits down here," Gallagher said.

Seeking the Queen has drawn the rail in a field of seven. The speed she showed in her sprint wins last year will be an asset for jockey Joel Rosario, who rides her for the first time.

Three other fillies have stakes experience. Neeko was sixth in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park in November, her most recent start. Owned and trained by Patricia Harrington, Neeko has worked quickly at Hollywood Park in recent weeks.

Seriously, trained by Bob Baffert, was third in the Ifyoucouldseemenow Stakes at Hollywood Park in December but last of six in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs here on Jan. 16.

Sandy Cheeks, who drew the outside, was unplaced in the Anoakia Stakes and California Breeders' Champion Stakes here in her last two starts in the final two months of 2009.

The other three starters - Church Camp, Millennia, and Pink Blossom - beat maidens in their last starts.

Church Camp won a $50,000 claiming race for maidens at Churchill Downs on Nov. 19 and was acquired privately by a partnership following that race, which she won by 4 3/4 lengths. A Forest Camp filly, she is now trained by Brian Koriner.

"We've been entering this filly for about three weeks to get a race to go," Koriner said. "She might need one. She ran well as a first-time starter. She acts like she can go a distance."